Podcast of Pete the Vet on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show: changes in rules on vet clinic ownership & festive foodstuffs that can poison pets

From changes in vet clinic ownership rules to festive human foods that can harm pets: listen to the podcast below.

Changes in rules on vet clinic ownership in Ireland

Last week the Veterinary Council of Ireland changed the professional code of conduct for vets. Up till now, the guide suggested that owners of vet clinics should be vets. This guide has now been changed so that “bodies corporate” can own vet clinics, employing vets to do the clinical work. This change opens the door to multinational chains of vet clinics opening in Ireland, either as new businesses or by buying established vet clinics. In some ways this is similar to Boots buying pharmacies or Specsavers setting up optician chains. It’s likely that this will change the face of vet services in this country in 2018.

There’s one particular aspect of the change in rules on vet clinic ownership that justifiably concerns many vets, and that is the fact that under the new arrangements, vet clinics will not be regulated in the same way. To date, vets have been the only ones allowed to own clinics, and vets are regulated as individuals by the Veterinary Council of Ireland. Vets are legally obliged to follow the Code of Professional Conduct which includes caring for animal welfare. If they do not do this, they can be disciplined, which can include being struck off so that they are no longer allowed to work as vets.

Now, limited companies, with a board of directors, will be allowed to own vet clinics. They cannot be regulated by the Vet Council as they are not vets and cannot be registered with the Veterinary Council. Their only remit is to their shareholders, which means they need to run a successful, profitable business. They have no specific remit to animal welfare other than complying with law like any other citizen.

So now, vets will be employees. They will still have to care for animal welfare in the same way but as non-owners, they won’t have the same level of control over their daily work. So in theory the employee vets could be asked by their non-vet employers to do something outwith the code of conduct.  If they did so, and then were disciplined or struck off by the Vet Council,  arguably it does not matter directly to the limited company – they can just employ a new vet and carry on.

This is why some vets are calling for a change in the law to at least insist that such limited companies should have a vet on the board of directors so that there is some type of formal regulation of the company itself by the Vet Council, rather than just regulation of its employees.

Human festive foods that can poison pets

From chocolate to onions to grapes and raisins, foods that humans enjoy over Christmas can poison pets. To read more on this topic, see my article in the Daily Telegraph.

Pet queries from listeners

To hear the answers to the following questions, listen to the podcast.


  • I have a one-year old cockapoo who is well behaved and I have spent time training him and he has responded well. My only issue is when I go to hug or kiss my husband he barks and jumps up and generally makes an nuisance of himself so normally I stop hugging my husband . The dog’s behaviour returns to normal , Any ideas of how to stop this behaviour?
  • We as a family will be away for 5 days in Feb. Normally not everybody is away at the same timer, and there is always somebody at home to mind our cat and dog. The problem in Feb next is that there will be nobody home. We have somebody who can take the dog, but our cat is the problem. She is deaf and is not a “visitor friendly” cat and does not go to strange houses; in fact she does not move much further that our own back garden. We have put her into a Cattery many years ago which was ok, as there was an enclosed outdoor run of approx. 4m x 4m, so at least she wasn’t confined to a small cage, but she hated it when she knew she was near that cattery, hissed like hell once we turned down the laneway. However I don’t think this place is open any longer. Any ideas where we can put her; we definitely do not want to put her into a cattery which just has a small cage with no out-door area. We are based in the Dublin area.
  • Can you explain symptoms of salt poisoning?
  • Our hamster is 25 months old. For the last month he makes chirping sounds when moving around. Is this bad? hamster otherwise behaving normally. Eating normally.
  • What do you do when you feel your vet is over prescribing antibiotics? Our dog pulled a nail off and needed a bandage. Vet gave an antibiotic injection, anti inflammatories and pain killer. 8 days later we brought him back for a bandage change and the vet tried to sell us more antibiotics. The dog is in top form and doesn’t seem to be in any pain whatsoever.
  • Is it really dangerous to feed bones to dogs? if so is it all dogs? all bones? cooked or raw? Thanks Ollie, Waterford

Facebook Live video session

Pete didn’t have time to answer all listeners’ questions on air, so as usual, he did a short Facebook Live video which you can watch here.

  • A 10 yr old Labrador very fit for age – is white rice and 1 chicken fillet sufficient as his dietary needs? Should he be on a special dry diet for his age. He is not fussy !
  • My male cat one and a half years old he drags his behind along the ground and yesterday seemed to have diarrhoea on two occasions
  • Do you have any tips to help a dog whose owner has died? Claire
  • I’ve fostered a dog till after Xmas with wanting to adopt in January my dogs 2 girls keep fight or playing I’m not sure how can you tell the difference
  • Are chocolate and sweet things also bad for cats?


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